April 24, 2015. It was to be a big day in Apple’s history, and a big day for Tim Cook to show the world he could match the brilliance of his predecessor Steve Jobs. Apple Watch was finally available for sale. It was Cook’s first new product category and it was fully under his direction and guidance. The result? Yawn.
Apple Watch is cool and works well within the Apple eco system, but it wasn’t a must-have item, and yet Apple spent abundant resources on bringing this gem (pun intended) to market. Products that suffered in Apple Watch’s development wake have been iPhone, iPad, iOS, Mac and OS X. It seems under Cook Apple can really only fully focus on one item at a time, which is exactly where Apple is today.
With the Mac hardware lineup sorely lacking any significant update or refresh and iPhone struggling to keep pace with its historical numbers, Apple seems intent on producing products the market isn’t interested in: iPad Pro. Tim Cook thinks this is cool, but the problem is the rest of us don’t — at least not in numbers that would make Apple’s stock soar like iPhone and the original iPad.
Then there is Project Titan, Apple’s car development program. This seems to be the main drain for why Apple can’t make a compelling new version of iPhone or significantly update its Mac hardware lineup. The best of Apple's engineering talent has been pulled into Apple's car development. Granted this is a big undertaking and not something the company can get wrong. The car must be absolutely awesome. It must also be safe. Finally it must be readily available and work without a slew of recalls (Tesla anyone?).
Keep in mind, all this information comes from outside of Apple. At this point it is pure conjecture. Maybe Project Titan isn’t to blame and it is something else? Maybe over a decade of massive success has made Apple complacent — willing to do just enough to sell the next model, but not enough to wow us all over again. This might just be Tim Cook’s Apple — not as daring, not as brilliant, but functional non-the-less.
I hope I am wrong and that WWDC16 will be Apple’s best in a decade with all sorts of new hardware and software announcements. Maybe even in a change in what we find inside Macs. If not, Titan brain drain or something else has this company on a completely different road than Steve Jobs once presided over.
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